Laura Nyro's third Columbia effort is easily the equal of her previous two. The overwhelming strength of her song writing and distinctive arrangements fuel Christmas and the Beads of Sweat. Her unmistakable style of delivery maintains the continual examination of herself as a performer. The results are uniformly interesting and provocative as she continues to draw upon her love of jazz, folk, and R&B – which would inform Nyro's next album ,Gonna Take a Miracle, featuring the soul vocal trio LaBelle. Conceptually, this album is as potent as her previous effort, New York Tendaberry, but in a much different way. Rather than hanging together thematically, Christmas and the Beads of Sweat features two inclusive and distinctive sides of music – with different musicians and producers for each.
This entry into the Japan-only Premium Best series highlights the recordings of composer/performer Laura Nyro. Unlike other single-CD North American compilations, this 16-track disc gives sufficient time to her tragically underappreciated post-Smile recordings. Several of these titles are not even available on CD in the States, which is perhaps correlated to the seeming lack of interest. There are actually numerous advantages to this collection – not the least of which is the artist-sensitive track list. Presumably the Premium Best series is aimed at the casual enthusiast, as the hardcore collector would either already own the contents or buy it anyway if they were a completist. By including seminal album sides such as the imperially haunting "New York Tendaberry" and "Upstairs by a Chinese Lamp," a more accurate overview of Nyro's career is presented here.
These 12 sides represent singer/songwriter Laura Nyro 's earliest professional recordings. More Than a New Discovery was originally issued on the Folkways label in conjunction with Verve Records in early 1967. The contents were subsequently reissued as The First Songs in 1969 after she began to garner national exposure with her first two LPs for Columbia – Eli and the Thirteenth Confession (1968) and New York Tendaberry (1969), respectively. Many of these titles became international hits for some of the early '70s most prominent pop music vocalists and bands. Among them, "Wedding Bell Blues" and "Blowing Away" were covered by the Fifth Dimension . "And When I Die" became one of Blood, Sweat & Tears signature pieces. Likewise, "Stoney End," as well as "I Never Meant to Hurt You," are both arguably best known via Barbra Streisand 's renditions.